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February 27, 2018 Rob Weiss

Keeping an Eye on the Big Picture: Highlights of the New WHO Resolution on Improving Access to Assistive Technology

D-Rev’s Mobility Program is rooted in the belief that low-income persons with disabilities deserve great assistive devices. Since launching ReMotion, an $80 prosthetic knee, our time is spent deep in the weeds of scaling a product into 20+ countries: solving engineering challenges, responding to customers, and navigating importation procedures. It can be all too easy to lose sight of the big-picture goal: that everyone should have access to mobility devices.


Agung Putra, a patient fit with ReMotion after losing his left leg in a motorbike accident at PUSPADI-Bali.

One way we stay connected to worldwide efforts to advance the agenda of disabled persons is by following the efforts of the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE) community. GATE members hold a shared vision of “a world where everyone in need has high-quality, affordable assistive products to lead a healthy, productive and dignified life.” On the ReMotion team, we contribute to the GATE community by sharing relevant insights and experiences from our efforts to expand access to prosthetic knees.

Recently, GATE leadership – a literal “whos-who” of the leading educators, researchers, practitioners, and non-profit executives in the global disability arena – celebrated a big win. A draft resolution on Improving Access to Assistive Technology was adopted by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) executive board in Januarythus raising the profile of, and demonstrating a global commitment to, improving equity for persons with disability.

Some highlights of the resolution:

  1. It reminds us that gaps in access to assistive devices remain and will continue to grow:

“Considering that one billion people need assistive technology and that, as the global population ages…this figure will rise to more than two billion by 2050…Noting that assistive technology enables and promotes the inclusion, participation and engagement of persons with disabilities…Recalling that 90% of those who need assistive technology do not have access to it, thereby having a significant adverse impact on the education, livelihood, health and well-being of individuals.”

  1. It asks countries to reflect on the importance of developing new innovations to close those gaps in regards to equitable access.

“[This resolution] urges member states…to promote or invest in research, development, innovation and product design in order to make existing assistive products affordable, and also to develop a new generation of products.”

  1. It urges minimum quality standards for the most critical assistive products, and new collaborations be established to make supply chains affordable.

“To encourage international and/or regional collaboration for the manufacturing, procurement and supply of priority assistive products, ensuring that these remain affordable and available across borders…to contribute to and engage in, as appropriate, the development of minimum standards for priority assistive products and services, in order to promote their safety, quality, cost-effectiveness and appropriateness.”

At D-Rev, we too believe that people who need assistive devices deserve world-class products that meet global standards. This is why we manufacture our ReMotion Knee in an ISO 13485 (medical grade) facility, meet the rigorous ISO 10328 standard for durability of prosthetics components, and are FDA compliant. And like the WHO resolution, we also hold equitable access as one of our core tenets and have seen first-hand how inclusive technology can empower amputees to achieve not only personal goals but also give back to society.

Delivering assistive devices for the 90% of people who do not have access is an enormous challenge and one that no single organization can solve on its own. Yet standing together with the GATE community and WHO, we remain confident that we can make a difference – even in the big picture.

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